The CEO of the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) cracks whip over civil service

Extracts from the Source_MKini:Pemandu cracks whip over civil service by Aidila Razak & S Pathmawathy

Minister in the Prime Minister‘s Department Idris Jala inn his role as the ‘salesperson’ and driver of the Prime Minister’s framework of change, the CEO of the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) uses charts and analogy to respond to issues. While at times convincing, his ‘motivational speaker/corporate trainer’ style also feels like a walk in the clouds, Idris is quick to point out that Pemandu’s everyday work is solidly on the ground.

Pemandu’s mandate – to transform the government and the economy – is no walk in the park by any measure. For Idris, the only way to attack such an enormous project is to do it bit by bit.

The Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), being launched today, opens the way for the country to meet its 6 percent economic growth target and to become a developed high-income nation by 2020.

“When we put everyone together (we realised that it is the) lack of communication (that has led to slow private investment in Malaysia).

“If you do not have (private stakeholders and civil servants in the same room), you will have the normal situation where the companies have to go from department to department for approval. That could take a long time and it is frustrating.


“The private sector has agreed to invest if those in the government resolve the X, Y and Z part of the project so that they can proceed with their work.”

Contrary to popular view, he claimed that his efforts to shake the civil service into life through the government transformation programme (GTP) has hit “most of the targets” and is more than encouraging.

“What tends to happen is that they have their priority, so your thing is low priority in their list. Rightly or wrongly they say their priority comes first (but) we say, well this is the prime minister’s priority (and things get going),” he said.

‘We’re the catalyst’

It is Pemandu’s role as a troubleshooter – or ‘catalyst’ in Idris’ words – that will eventually transform the way the civil service and private sector do things.

“Every Friday we hold a problem-solving meeting. When someone comes to us with a problem in getting approval from a government department, we will write and ask why was it not approved (and work on those reasons),” he said.

Pemandu will crack the whip for as long as it takes for the transformation to turn to habit. To make sure that they themselves do not become jaded, all Pemandu staff are on a three-year contract.

“In Shell, Malaysia Airlines, everywhere, I find that most human beings are very capable, but lacking in discipline, lazy to do more work,” Idris noted.
“Everyone will criticise, but come and tell us your suggestions and we will listen to them. There are many armchair critics who will not even bother to see what we have manage to do. No matter what their doubts are nothing can be solved unless there is some form of feedback but for some, their solutions are the only solutions.

“Sometimes people don’t like what is good for them so we need to decide for them.

“As we implement the projects, we will force (through) the changes that need to take place in bureaucracy.”

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